Come thou long expected Jesus
A second favourite Advent hymn of mine is “Come, thou long expected Jesus”. If you don’t know it, you can listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEEd0uWnDGs
On Monday we thought about the hope that came alive when Jesus came to earth at Christmas, and how we live with the hope that one day the world will be restored, all will be set free, light will shine, and the true king will be worshipped. Today’s hymn expresses a heartfelt longing for Jesus to come: the heartfelt longing of the Israelites waiting for the Messiah to come, but also our heartfelt longing for Jesus to come and set everything right.
I find the words of this hymn so grounding. As I sing the words that speak of who Jesus is and what He is doing, it certainly does bring strength and consolation. Jesus will bring freedom, rest, hope, joy, and an eternal home for us in His Kingdom. And we certainly do long for those things, particularly with the world in the fragile state it is in. But we live in a strange in between time: Jesus has come to earth and defeated death, but His Kingdom hasn’t yet come in all its fullness. It can feel like we’re constantly in a time of waiting: waiting for lockdown to end, waiting for Christmas, waiting for the pandemic to be over, waiting for Jesus to return… But the wonderful news for us, even in this strange in between time, is that we don’t need to wait to know the love of Jesus. We don’t need to wait to ask Him to help us break free from sin and fear. We don’t need to wait to invite Jesus to rule in us. And when we do invite Him into our lives, we might just get a glimpse of the freedom, the peace and the joy that is to come.
As we step further into Advent, perhaps today is a good time to pause and use this hymn as a prayer. Let’s ask Jesus to come and reign in us now. You might find it helpful to change the words “us” and “our” to “me” and “my” etc: for example “Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set me free, from my fears and sins release me, let me find my rest in thee… “
Come, thou long expected Jesus.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Charles Wesley 1744
Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash